April 2, 2012, Delhi

Media literacy and Life Skills

When I joined The Butterfly project in 2011, my understanding of the project was limited to just honing of technical skills and imparting the same through the concept of peer-education. What I perceived of media literacy was more of just scripting, composing shots and editing of films and stories.

Kirti Gandhi, Photo: Rachit Sai Barak

I had a very restricted idea of how media and life skills were related, and if they were at all related to each other. But after working with the programme for almost 8 months now, I have realized the relevancy of life skills to media.

Media literacy would not only include composing a digital film or story. Each person interprets a message differently based on age, culture, life experiences, attitudes, values and beliefs which makes it imperative to consider such disparate understandings.  Therefore in order to ensure that the message or idea intended to be communicated is correctly interpreted, it is important to know how to express the idea and how to present it effectively for the target audience to be able to comprehend and appreciate.

A direct link 

Media being a highly creative tool of communication develops creative thinking and also allows critical thinking. It is essentially concerned with developing an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used, and the impact rendered by those techniques. Also, when a particular story or film puts across an idea or thought, it allows people, who might think differently, to critically examine the idea and further encourages them to form conceptions which may prove to be contrary or similar to the one being communicated. Hence, media helps develop the process of critical examination in people, which not only makes it an effective but a highly persuasive and influential form of communication.

After joining the programme I realised that Media literacy, indeed, has a lot more to it which entails the ability to be able to interpret, analyse and appreciate the language of images and sounds.

Our team at Khushi Rainbow Home for Girls which comprises of me, Gagandeep and Baanie and a group of 10 girls from the Home – Zikra, Blessy, Roni, Shabana, Shabnam, Anmol, Sabya, Kajal, Hameeda and Sabroon, work collectively towards understanding how media makes us more resourceful, not only in terms of the tools and techniques we learn but also, by making ourselves more cognizant of the issues that surround us and affect our lives and of those living around us.

While working in the programme, I have realized what one requires to be able to communicate through any media is not just technical awareness but also cognizance of how media influences and defines our own lives and the communities we live in.

Developing an Understanding

The programme emphasizes not only on constructing media but also on creating meaning. The girls at the Home come from different backgrounds and have a deep understanding of the issues which they have seen around themselves.

The use of digital stories helps them express reality through their own stories.

Storyboarding by Girls at Khushi, Photo: Rachit Sai Barak

Skills like problem solving, creative and critical thinking, awareness and sensitivity towards the issues of the communities the girls live in and ability to communicate these to the outside world, which the girls develop during the process, enables them to address & advocate for change and consequently become active participants in society.

The goal is to make the young girls we work with exercise their full right to expression. We envision the girls feeling empowered and safe enough to express themselves and use media to analyze, access, evaluate issues they feel passionate about. We hope that the media they create through this process strengthens their voices and encourages them to speak out loud. 

It would be appropriate to assume media literacy as a process of self-discovery, recognizing and channelizing the innate talent present in each one of us. The programme not only enables us to broaden our perspectives but further sensitizes us to the various tools and techniques that can be used to express and voice our opinions.

The team at Khushi, Photo: TYPF

- Kirti Gandhi, Peer-educator, The Butterfly Project

The Butterfly Project is a Digital Storytelling program that works with 20 boys (aged 13-20) and 25 girls (aged 13-20) from vulnerable backgrounds; and 14 peer educators from the National Capital Region (NCR) at the Ummeed Home For Boys, Khushi and Kilkari Rainbow Home for Girls, run by ‘Dil Se Campaign‘ (Managed jointly by our partner organizations, the Center For Equity Studies and Aman Biradari).

The peer educators – Mudit, Shaman, Ishan and Garima work at Ummeed Home for Boys with Armaan, Salmaan, Ramzan, Akshay, Sukhbir, Sanah Ullah, Sukhdev, Raja, Ismail, Vijay, Rohit, Rahul, Suraj, Fahim, Chand, Ameer, Sameer, Rakesh and Raju.

The peer educators – Munmun, Saral, Natasha, Meghna and Vidhi work at the Kilkari Rainbow Home for Girls with Sonam, Ameena, Basanti, Rihaana, Ruksaana, Kajal, Sonia, Nikita, Puja Raju, Puja Manoj, Manju and Mona.

To read about the ‘Dil Se Superstars’ Programme, Click here.



October 31, 2011, Delhi

My Journey at TYPF

I’ve never really been a man of action. Sure, I want to do good, and right by humanity, but I’ve never actually been able to to anything about it. Partly because I’m probably the most lethargic person you’ll ever meet, but also because I didn’t really know how to go about it.

And just like the quintessential bollywoodian hero, that’s where YP comes in.

Ishan Saluja

Following a post on a friends’s wall, I ended up at the inductions. And the rest as they say, is history.

But I’d rather still write about it.

I chose The Butterfly Project, because although I am working towards becoming an engineer; cinematography, scripting and photography have always been close to my heart. Always being since the past two years or so. The working with kids part was just icing on the cake.

Got called for an interview. The entrance requirements must be pretty low, considering the atrocity I drew in answer to the question of what I picture when I think about a street child. 

“Imagine a stick figure who’s angry/happy/sad/satisfied in outer space”.                                                                                              

Ishan Saluja

Soon after, the meetings commenced.

And twice or thrice a week, for about two hours, I forgot all about Ohm’s law, or Einstein’s relativity, and spent time with some of the most amazing people I’ve met in a long time.

Everyone in YP is someone I aspire to take something from. We’re a bunch of opionated, kind-of-funny, want-to-do good, rag-tag ‘young people’, that have actually become good friends, and rather enjoy making Disha go crazy. I’d be lying, if I said that I didn’t look forward to the meetings each week.

Indeed, YP is helping me keep (in)sane, and although, I’ve only sort-of been on a location visit; something tells me, I’m going to love it.


- Ishan Saluja, 18, is a Peer-educator with The Butterfly Project